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Julián Castro’s Marshall Plan
Presidential candidate Julián Castro has introduced many policies that he would implement during his presidency revolving around protecting indigenous communities, policing and education reform. One of the most pressing policies that Castro proposed revolves around immigration. With a three-part plan, Julián Castro is attempting to create an immigration policy that focuses on reforming the system altogether. However, one of the more ambitious parts of the plan deals with something he has coined as a 21st Century Marshall Plan for Central America. Julián Castro’s Marshall Plan could be a major step in solving immigration issues in both the United States and Central America.

Meet Julián Castro

Castro is no stranger to the world of politics. At a young age, he watched his mother run for San Antonio’s city council as the first woman of Mexican descent to do so. He learned the values of hard work and dedication from both his mother and his grandmother, who was an immigrant from Mexico that started her family with a fourth-grade education and a job as a housekeeper.

However, Julián Castro’s political career did not start when he decided to run in the 2020 presidential election. At age 26, he entered the San Antonio city council. Not only did he make history as the youngest councilman elected in the city, but he began his path to public service that would result in him becoming mayor of San Antonio in 2009 and then the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in 2014. Along the way, he even became the first Latino to give the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2012.

The Original Marshall Plan

In 1948, Europe had severly damaged infrastructure. World War II caused strain to Europe’s economies and disrupted agricultural production. To alleviate this issue, George C. Marshall created a plan to give roughly $15 billion to European countries. These countries used the money to rebuild cities and various economic industries for four years. In the process, these European countries and the U.S. created trade opportunities and development programs. The plan created substantial results across the continent. Industrial and agricultural production increased by over 37 percent and the overall balance of trade and economic stability improved as well.

The Marshall Plan differed from other aid programs during the time because it was a joint effort between many nations. The United States created the funding and programs that could benefit Europe, and the nations committed to implementing these programs. This plan benefitted Europe’s economic growth and reestablished the United States’ influence in the region after the war.

The Marshall Plan was also a way to test various programs concerning development and relief efforts. For example, the Economic Cooperation Administration’s model, designed to provide financial assistance to these European nations, was a model to create the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Overall, the 20th century Marshall Plan was a major step in development programs that helped Europe drastically.

A Plan for Central America

In an NPR podcast, Castro describes the importance of working to rebuild Central America for multiple reasons. For one, it helps create stronger relationships with the U.S.’s neighbors to the south. By creating an alliance with these countries, the U.S. can continue being an economic competitor with China, which is on track to pass the U.S. in becoming the largest economy in the world by 2030.

Along with the economic benefits of strengthening a region with potential trade partnership, the second major reason for assisting Central America is immigration issues. Castro states that “…if we want to solve the immigration issue, we need to go to the root of the cause…and that is that people can’t find safety and opportunity in Central America.”

Central America is a region where large numbers leave to seek asylum from violence and corrupt governmental institutions. By 2015, nearly 3.4 million people born in Northern Triangle countries (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) were living in the U.S., with over half being undocumented immigrants.

Julián Castro’s Marshall Plan

Julián Castro’s Marshall Plan would firstly target some of the root causes of violence in the Northern Triangle such as transnational criminal organizations and illicit networks. According to Castro, an increase in law enforcement programs would help eliminate criminal activities such as human and drug trafficking. Also, this plan would require a heavier focus on anti-corruption and government transparency practices. With the cooperation of leaders in Central America and the United States’ resources, the high rates of violence in the region can decrease and create safer environments and sustainable governments less susceptible to corruption.

His policy also provides more funding for programs designed to prevent violence at local levels, create jobs and support health and nutrition across Central America. By stimulating economic development through more sustainable jobs, it allows people to stay and grow their communities rather than leaving them to find better success in the United States.

The final major point that this candidate emphasizes is the importance of prioritizing diplomatic relations with Latin American countries. To ease the instability in this region, all nations have to become part of this plan. Cooperation between these nations and the United States will ultimately be the major stepping stone to creating safe and sustainable communities.

This major foreign policy proposal would only be one component of his push to tackle immigration, but his message stands clear throughout his campaign. Julián Castro’s Marshall Plan intends to put people first, and for millions of people living in Central America, that is something they can begin hoping for in 2020.

– Sydney Blakeney
Photo: Flickr

The Marshall Plan
In 1947, Europe was still feeling World War II’s devastation. Rebuilding was not going as fast as necessary and people of every country were feeling the impacts. Economies had nearly come to a complete halt in most countries and there were up to 11 million refugees that needed to find jobs, homes and food. The United States was the only superpower in the world that could offer any assistance to the people of Europe because the war did not entirely influence its industries. The reason for the implementation of the Marshall Plan was to help people rebuild their homes and industries, as well as provide security and an economic boost to the U.S.

The Marshall Plan’s Origins

The Marshall Plan, formerly called the European Recovery Program, was an initiative proposed by the United States Secretary of State, George C. Marshall, in 1947. The plan aimed to accomplish several things. First, it was to provide aid to kickstart European countries whose economies the war destroyed. The second was to promote free trade that would not only benefit those countries but the United States as well. The third was to contain the spread of communism that was sweeping over Eastern Europe.

The Marshall plan gave aid to 15 countries; the United Kingdom, West Germany, Austria, France, the Netherlands, Iceland, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Denmark, Belgium, Sweden, Ireland, Portugal and Norway. President Harry Truman signed the plan into law on April 3, 1948; it brought aid to Europe in the form of machinery, fuel, food and money.

Aid for the Netherlands

World War II hit the Netherlands hard when the German forces occupied the country from 1940-1945. The war heavily damaged its infrastructure, agriculture and housing and they were in desperate need of repair. To rebuild its infrastructure, The Marshall Plan gave half a million dollars to the cement industry to repair roads, bridges and ports. The port in Rotterdam was particularly important because the country uses it to import goods. The Plan provided more funds to build housing for 9.5 million people living in the Netherlands. Fixing the agriculture of the Netherlands required the country to modernize its practices. It spent funds on new farming equipment and the treatment and repairing of the soil destroyed by years of fighting. In total, the Netherlands received $1.127 billion to rebuild its country.

Aid for Germany

Germany split in two shortly after World War II ended. The Soviet Union controlled East Germany while the United States and its allies controlled West Germany. West Germany received $1.4 billion in Marshall Plan aid although the war heavily impacted it. The whole of Germany had an aggressive bombing campaign to destroy its cities and invading armies from the west and east devastated the country’s communities. Twelve percent of the aid to West Germany went towards housing the nearly eight million refugees that had settled there after the war. These houses were necessary with a population of 67.9 million. Coal was another industry that was in desperate need; 40 percent of funding went towards this so that Germany could fuel its industries and factories. The funds from the Marshall Plan helped the German people find homes, jobs and food.

Aid for the UK

German bombings on British industrial sites had a terrible impact on the production of British goods, particularly on its southern cities. By 1948, the United Kingdom had mostly recovered from the war, but it needed to address more. While the U.K. was able to rebuild, the country was deep in debt and was having a challenging time feeding its people and keeping its industries going. Because of its 1948 population of 50 million people and its contribution to the war effort, the U.K. received the largest sum from the Marshall Plan, $3.2 billion. These funds provided the country with financial stability and allowed it to balance out its economy. While the aid did not go towards helping the U.K.’s economy, it benefited from the food and fuel brought in and the breathing room necessary to stabilize its country.

In total, the United States spent over $13 billion in aid for the 15 countries. These countries were able to provide food, fuel, housing and stability for their people during a devastating time thanks to the Marshall Plan. The average GDP of the nations that received aid increased from their prewar levels by 35 percent, and overall industrial production rose by 40 percent. The U.S. was also a beneficiary of the economic success of the European nations engaging in trade. In the decade following the end of the Marshall Plan in 1951, the GDP of the United States had nearly doubled. The Marshall Plan shows the benefits of providing foreign aid that can help not only those receiving but those giving as well.

– Sam Bostwick
Photo: Flickr

history of the Berlin Blockade
On June 24, 1948, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) cut off land access and power to West Berlin. This act hoped to discredit the U.S. by stranding 2.5 million war-weary people in the American sector without food. American attempts to breach the blockade might have resulted in war, so the Truman Administration circumvented the USSR by airlifting supplies into the city for almost a year. It was a major success. The history of the Berlin Blockade displayed the power of emergency aid and set a precedent for countless American airlift operations.

The Blockade Begins

Following World War II, Germany and Berlin split into Eastern and Western entities. England, France and the U.S. controlled the Western sectors, while the USSR administered the East. Unfortunately, the entire city of Berlin was in East Germany. The Western powers signaled West German autonomy in 1948 by instituting currency reform in their sectors.

The Soviets feared an independent Germany as a threat to its nation’s security. Dr. Armin Grunbacher adds that Soviet leaders wanted to force America to relinquish control of Berlin and discredit them as the Cold War began. The USSR increasingly provoked the West to try and achieve its goals as June 1948 approached. Tensions especially grew during the April Crisis.

A U.S. Army historical report recounts that Soviet provocations led all parties closer to war. On April 5, 1948, a patrolling Soviet jet collided with a British passenger aircraft over Germany and killed everyone on board. The Soviets finally blockaded West Berlin in June 1948, sending American leaders into a panic. Officials questioned if America should risk war with military incursions into Berlin or if there was a better option.

The Airlift

West Berliners desperately required supplies. Residents rationed food, but some still starved. Soviet ration cards enticed 20,000 individuals to go to East Berlin.

President Truman curtailed initial plans by West Germany’s military administrator, General Lucius Clay, to forcefully supply the city with an armed convoy. It was inefficient and could potentially start a major war. Instead, the Truman Administration ordered Clay to gather American transport aircrafts from around the world for an upcoming humanitarian aid operation. General Curtis LeMay ran Operation Vittles and started airlifting 5,000 tons of supplies every day into West Berlin starting on July 1, 1948.

The Airlift’s Success

The U.S. needed to airlift at least 2,000 tons of aid daily to feed everyone. By the end of the airlift, American planes delivered 13,000 tons every day to West Berliners. The breadth of planes utilized and supplies dropped still makes the Berlin Airlift the largest operation of its kind. The success of the aid humiliated the Soviet dictator, Joseph Stalin, and the blockade ended on May 12, 1949.

The U.S. not only saved the lives of millions of people but displayed its immense generosity. Dr. Grunbacher says that the history of the Berlin Blockade showed “the manifested expression of U.S. technical superiority and willingness to defend the ‘Free World.’”

Later Operations

Many airlifts have followed the example of Operation Vittles. A report from the U.S. Air Force accounts for 560 such humanitarian operations between 1947 and 1994. America used emergency assistance to respond to both natural disasters and humanitarian crises in this period.

For example, the 1977 Turkish earthquake killed 3,600 people and left 50,000 homeless. The USAF was quick to respond and airlifted 606 tons of tents, blankets and food to accommodate those affected. The U.S. also participated in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide Relief, nicknamed Operation Support Hope. U.S. planes deposited 3,600 tons of supplies at refugee camps in neighboring nations for fleeing Rwandan refugees.

The history of the Berlin Blockade resonated as late as 2014 when the U.S. airlifted food and water to Yazidi Christians trapped on Mt. Sinjar in Iraq. The Islamic State had assaulted surrounding villages in the area and massacred members of the ethnoreligious minority. American intervention bought the Yazidis vital time. More than 114,000 meals and 35,000 gallons of water dropped sustained Yazidis until most escaped the mountain.

The history of the Berlin Blockade displayed the potential for emergency aid to assist millions of people and avoid violent conflict. It also showed that the reputation of the U.S. benefits from humanitarian operations. The precedent set in 1948 spawns new operations every year and it shows no sign of stopping.

– Sean Galli
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Facts about Albert EinsteinEinstein changed our scientific understanding of the universe. He was also and continues to be a palpable figure in the zeitgeist. After receiving global acclaim for his research, culminating with the Nobel Prize in 1922, Einstein put his newly acquired fame to good use. He used his platform on the world stage to promote and fight for causes of global development and unity. Below are 10 interesting facts about Albert Einstein.

10 Interesting Facts About Albert Einstein

  1. Einstein was a peacekeeper. Einstein was an ardent pacifist. While World War I raged across Europe, many of Einstein’s colleagues put forth a “Manifesto of Ninety-Three.” The document declared their unequivocal support for the war. Einstein attempted to put forth a counter-manifesto to no avail. Einstein continued to be a fervent ambassador for peace for the rest of his life.
  2. He understood the political turmoil that comes from world hunger. Einstein once observed, “An empty stomach is not a good political advisor.” The physicist was a witness to the effects of poverty. After his emigration from Nazi Germany, Einstein saw how the need for food and basic resources created instability within a country and had the potential to engulf the world in chaos.
  3. He believed in equality. Einstein also put his name, along with thousands of other signatories, on the Magnus Hirschfeld petition. This petition was a direct infringement of paragraph 175 of the German penal code which outlawed homosexuality in Germany.
  4. He didn’t claim any nationality. Einstein was the 20th century’s man without a country. In other words, he was a self-proclaimed “citizen of the world.” He was a passionate supporter of a world government, which is a far-reaching body that can rise above nationalist tendencies. As he wrote in his open letter to the United Nations General Assembly in 1947, Einstein was fearful that institutions such as the United Nations would be toothless bureaucracies. He advocated for a global, apolitical body that would be above all governments. Furthermore, he believed that it would broaden the U.N.’s powers above individual nations. This, in Einstein’s opinion, would be the surest way to prevent another world war and the use of newly acquired nuclear weapons.
  5. Einstein was a refugee. Another among this list of facts about Albert Einstein concerns how he was a refugee from Germany. Adolf Hitler’s regime threatened Jewish intellectuals like Einstein. Due to this, he was one of 125,000 Germans who immigrated to the U.S. to escape persecution in the years between 1933 and 1945.
  6. He was a supporter of his Jewish background. Following the atrocities against the Jewish population during the Nazi regime, Einstein became an outspoken supporter of the establishment of a Jewish state. While he supported the creation of Israel, Einstein was not sold on the necessary characteristics of a state. Some characteristics, for example, are borders or a standing army. So, while he would lobby for the support of such a nation, he never lost touch with his pacifist roots. Einstein was even offered the position of Israeli President in 1952. He declined the opportunity, stating: “I am deeply moved by the offer from our State of Israel, and at once saddened and ashamed that I cannot accept it.”
  7. He was a passionately curious person. Einstein was “passionately curious” his whole life. Therefore, access to education and information and general love for learning were close to his heart. He was aware of the threat that figures such as Senator Joseph McCarthy posed to the world. He condemned McCarthy’s tactics of public shaming as a “matter of using people as tools for the prosecution of others that one wants to label as ‘unorthodox.'” Einstein was keen to point out the dangers that McCarthy reflected blatant attacks on intellectualism and educational freedom and access.
  8. He fought for civil rights. Following the Second World War, Einstein could not help but notice some disheartening similarities between the treatment of German Jews with the institutional segregation and racism in America. Einstein infamously turned down engagements to speak at prestigious American universities. Instead, he opted to speak at the historically-black Lincoln University in 1946. He is quoted as saying, “The separation of the races is not a disease of colored people. It is a disease of white people. And I do not intend to be quiet about it.” This was quite controversial at the time.
  9. Einstein was a humanitarian. In 1927, Einstein was a participant and supporter of the League Against Imperialism in Brussels. This organization was a transnational anti-imperialist organization that pushed back against rampant colonialism and colonial power. Einstein and others felt that it would help countries that have been negatively impacted by the world’s colonial powers.
  10. He was a socialist. In order to promote a freer and fair society, Einstein was in favor of socialism over capitalism as the reigning social, political and economic ideology. In his article, “Why Socialism?” Einstein stated, “I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils…the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals.” Einstein felt that socialism would instill in people a sense of collective responsibility to one another, “in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.”

A Genius of Injustice

Einstein was nothing short of tenacious. He would continue to speak out against foreign and domestic injustices where he saw them. Near the end of his life, Einstein saw his voice as one of his greatest assets. He understood that those who can speak out also share an obligation to do so. This was, perhaps, the most important on this list of interesting facts about Albert Einstein.

Though some of the ideas that Einstein promoted never came to be, he never stopped promoting global unity. These facts about Albert Einstein only scratch the surface of his work. However, the continued efforts of organizations such as the United Nations and UNICEF carry out the values he believed in. They have taken up the mantel to ensure global health, stability and development.

– Connor Dobson
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About UNICEF
UNICEF is an organization which assists children in over 190 countries. The organization focuses on saving the lives of children, defending children’s rights, and helping them fulfill their potential as individuals. Founded in December of 1946 in an effort by the United Nations to support children in post-war Europe and China, UNICEF has been active ever since.

Here are the top 10 facts about UNICEF and how their impact has been felt around the world.

Top 10 Facts About UNICEF

  1. UNICEF is an organization which helps children receive necessary vaccinations. The organization gathers vaccines for 40 percent of children globally. Annually, this amounts to roughly three billion doses of vaccines.
  2. Globally, UNICEF is the largest buyer of mosquito nets which can be used to protect children from harmful insect bites. Malaria is an example of a disease which can be preventable through the use of a mosquito net. In 2006, UNICEF purchased 25 million of these mosquito nets.
  3. In 2006, UNICEF procured 10 million-plus malaria treatments. ACT, which stands for pyronaridine- artesunate, is a form of therapy which has been shown to be just as effective as other drugs for treating Malaria. The WHO recommended that this type be used to treat P. falciparum malaria.
  4. UNICEF embraces a wide variety of social issues. Among these are the protection of children, girls education, HIV/AIDS, immunization, malaria, nutrition, South Sudan child soldiers, and WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene).
  5. In April of 2005, UNICEF released a publication which documented the organization’s work between 1995-2005. Titled ‘A Pivotal Decade’ the publication covered the 10-year span during which UNICEF helped ensure that millions of children survive who could have been lost. The publication explores how UNICEF is well-equipped to handle its main goal; striving to give each and every child a better future.
  6. According to UNICEF, human trafficking has been reported in all 50 US states. The highest rates have been reported in CA, FL, NY, OH, and TX. These are the statistics reported by UNICEF in one of their fast facts publications.
  7. UNICEF’s overarching goal is to achieve worldwide equality. Especially in the lives of children afflicted by illness, hunger, or war, who cannot attend school and receive a proper education as a result. There are also instances where children are prohibited from attending school. Specifically in the lives of young girls, which UNICEF works hard to support.
  8. Vaccines for diseases such as polio and typhus cost one dollar or less per 1 (unsure of currency) per vaccination. Despite the price, many still cannot afford these vaccines which prevent dangerous, if not deadly, diseases. UNICEF gives out free vaccinations to one in three children worldwide.
  9. When first launching in 1946, UNICEF concentrated primarily on supplying food, clothes, and medicine to young children and mothers in post-war Europe, China, and Palestine. Beginning in the early ’50’s, UNICEF sought to create more long-term goals for developing countries. As a result of these efforts, UNICEF constructed health stations in third world countries and began starting projects to ensure children and adolescents attend school.
  10. UNICEF’s long-running history of seeking to make the world a better place has resulted in them putting vast amounts of money towards public health efforts. The organization reportedly sets aside 80 percent of its funds towards public health initiatives.

Since their launch 73 years ago, UNICEF has become one of the most well-known and renowned organizations dedicated to public health and the well-being of children. These top 10 facts about UNICEF are just a few of this organization’s incredible accomplishments. Striving to make the world a better place since December of 1946, UNICEF shows no sign of slowing down.

Jacob Nangle
Photo: Flickr

living conditions on wake island
A strategic military point located about 3,700 kilometers west of Honolulu, and the site of a World War II battle deemed “The Alamo of the Pacific”, the unincorporated U.S. territory is now home to 100 non-permanent residents – some military, some civilian contractor – whose sole job is to maintain the island’s single paved runway and military installations, should any military or commercial aircraft need to make an emergency landing or refuel. While the Micronesian atoll acts first and foremost as a jumping off point for military personnel, 100 workers call this island home – however long or short their stay might be.

Top Ten Facts about Living Conditions on Wake Island

  1. Population: Wake Island has no native population, meaning that the 100 personnel stationed on the atoll are about it, aside from the natural wildlife. According to a 2018 CBS story, only four of these residents are U.S. military, while the rest (who are mainly of Thai descent) simply live there for varying lengths of time, maintaining the infrastructure. While these residents are considered non-permanent, some have been there for decades. In particular, one contractor has been working on Wake since 1991.
  2. Education: Because the inhabitants of Wake Island are non-permanent, many of their families are overseas, meaning there is little need (or space given the amount of government property on the island) to establish a formal education system on Wake Island. That said, if the need arises, resources may be allocated to establish a school.
  3. Economy: The economy of Wake Island is based solely on external factors. Due to the land’s total area of seven square kilometers, there is not enough space to establish substantial agriculture or production. That said, large scale infrastructure is not necessarily needed – currently, fresh food, water and supplies are flown in every two weeks in order to guarantee the residents have adequate supplies.
  4. Natural vegetation and rainfall: Wake Island has no agricultural land and no arable land. Much of the natural vegetation on the island consists of what has been described as “gray, open scrub forest” by a 1959 report by the National Academy of Sciences. Furthermore, Wake Island is generally very dry, receiving on average a little less than three inches of rainfall each month (aside from typhoons), creating the need for rainwater procurement systems and desalinization plants for drinking water.
  5. Weather conditions: While Wake Island might seem like a tropical paradise, it is not immune to tropical storms and typhoons. In 2006, the island was evacuated on account of category five tropical storm Ioke, though the island and its facilities received little damage or disruption from the event. That said, these storms are few and far between, and in general, do not greatly influence the living conditions on Wake Island.
  6. Animal life: The non-permanent residents are not alone on Wake Island. The atoll itself is a National Wildlife Refuge and is host to several species of migratory birds. In the past, Wake Island has also been home to rats and feral cats. Initially brought to Wake to help mitigate a rat problem in the 1960s, the introduction of feral cats as predators greatly interfered with the bird population, with some species changing breeding and nesting habits. Efforts have been made to reduce the number of feral cats on the island, but these measures have resulted in an increase in the rat population. That said, after Typhoon Ioke, a 2008 study conducted by the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian detected only two remaining feral cats, and no kittens, with varied data on the rat population.
  7. United States Presence: Putting it simply, Wake Island is first and foremost a U.S. government installation. Located at a strategic point in the Pacific, commercial flights and tourists are strictly forbidden without proper clearance. That said, should a plane or ship need to make an emergency landing, they are often cleared to do so. In addition to the military base and the lone paved runway, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a research facility on the island in order to assist in monitoring ocean currents and weather patterns.
  8. Aid for Wake Island: Aid provided to Wake Island by the United States is based solely on need. Because of its military designation, Wake Island thrives on the U.S. military’s “supply drops” every two weeks, which provide adequate living conditions for the island’s inhabitants. Though should something arise (typhoon, insufficient resources, etc.), the United States will react accordingly, as evidenced by Typhoon Ioke.
  9. Transnational issues: While the United States initially annexed Wake Island in 1898 and made the island a formal military base in the 1930s, ownership over the atoll is a gray area at best. While Wake Island is often considered an unincorporated United States territory under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Marshall Islands laid an official claim to Wake Island in 2016, stating the atoll lay within country’s official geographic borders – and that the Marshallese often ventured there in search of a specific flower (the Kio Flower) before the arrival of European explorers.
  10. Memories of War: On December 8, 1941, moments after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese forces set their sights on Wake Island and launched a surprise attack. While the U.S. forces were able to defend the island against the initial wave of attackers, the atoll eventually fell and was turned into a Prisoner of War camp until the end of the war. On one May evening in 1943, one prisoner escaped the camp and etched the following on a stone across the atoll: “98 US PW 5-10-43”, demarcating the remaining 98 U.S. soldiers still interred in the camp, and the day they were to be executed. Two years later, the United States retook Wake Island. This rock, now referred to as 98 Rock, is one of many remnants from World War II, and the Battle of Wake Island.

A tropical paradise to anyone researching, the government installation feels otherworldly, according to the 2018 CBS story – an island that somehow belongs to both the United States and the Marshall Islands, but at the same time, neither. It is its own island community filled with non-permanent workers, who make do with what they have.

– Colin Petersdorf
Photo: CIA Library Website

Bloodiest War in HistoryWhat is the bloodiest war in history? To determine which wars or battles would qualify for the bloodiest or the deadliest can be tricky. Which war wins in meeting the criteria for this evaluation?

World War II

The global war between Axis, Allied and Neutral Powers that led to approximately 50,000,000 deaths, World War II. All of the chaos and controversy that created the First World War laid the foundation for the next global playing field of conflict that came to be The Second World War. This came about 20 years later after World War One.

During a financially and politically challenging time period for Germany, Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist or Nazi party rose to German rule. Hitler began making tactical treaties with Italy and Japan. Hitler, in violation of the Treaty of Versailles, began rearming German military in pursuit for more Lebensraum, or living space, for Germany. Once Hitler invaded Poland in September 1939, France and Great Britain declared war on Germany. As a result, World War II began.

What Happened During World War II

After invading Poland, Germany attacked Denmark and Norway. After that, the country went on to attack Belgium, The Netherlands and France. In the summer of 1940, Germany lost in its air attack attempt with its Air Force, the Luftwaffe. The Luftwaffe couldn’t defeat Britain’s Royal Air Force. Germany’s ally, Italy, experienced failure as well in attempts to expand the war. This was attempted by invading Greece and North Africa. In early 1941, Germany came to the rescue of its ally.

Later in 1941, Germany experienced a turning point of failure in its war efforts through attempting to invade Russia. Russia was too big, even with the inefficiencies of Russia’s counteraction. Its muscle and tenacity, paired with its harsh winter, sustained them at the expense of Germany’s army.

In 1943, Germany was backed into a corner to retreat after the end of the battles of Stalingrad and Kursk. During 1944, the Germans were gradually backed out of USSR territory and the Russians continued to seek them out across eastern Europe and even back into their country in 1945.

On the coast of Normandy, in France that was currently occupied by Germany, is where the D-Day invasion took place. This was between Great Britain and the United States in June 1944. Germany’s army was being sandwiched in by Allied forces coming from the east and the west. The Soviet Union touched down in Berlin first which transpired into Germany’s surrender in May 1945 after Adolf Hitler’s suicide.

Some of the most renown relationships and battles of the war occurred in the Pacific beginning on December 7, 1941. This was when Japan attacked the U.S. Navy base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Japan was also fighting with China and developing expansion in the Southeast Asia-Pacific Region. The attack on Pearl Harbor led to the U.S. declaration of war on Japan. But their battles didn’t begin until the spring of 1942. These battles built up to the Battle of Midway where Japan suffered a massive loss.

In 1943, the struggle continued between the United States and Japan over the Solomon Islands and the Guadalcanal. The fighting in the Pacific continued in 1944 and 1945. Then, in early August, the United States dropped two atomic bombs in two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This resulted in the surrender of Japan.

Global Progress Since World War II

What is the bloodiest war in history? The answer points to World War II, having caused estimates of over 40 million deaths. The war also caused massive amounts of destruction in land and property.

Globally, the majority of the world was living in poverty 110 years before this Second World War. What progress has been made between then and now? After the Second World War, the United Nations Charter was signed by 50 countries to stand on valuing peace which is found in favor of social justice, development and eliminating poverty.

In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson set forth War on Poverty in the United States. The World Bank began developing studies on global poverty and creating a definitive system for the global poverty line. Ultimately, these efforts have led to overachieving successes such as the Millennium Development Goal of reducing extreme poverty rates and the development of Sustainable Development Goals to eradicate all forms of poverty. So, the bloodiest war in history? The bloodiest war in history, World War Two, resulted in tremendous losses globally but the goals of international leaders won’t let them be in vain.

–Janiya Winchester
Photo: Flickr

Generalplan Ost

The unforgettable tragedy of the Holocaust committed by Nazi Germany during World War II resulted in the deaths of more than 12 million people in Europe, but Hitler and his party had greater ambitions for an even larger genocide called Generalplan Ost.

10 Generalplan Ost Facts

  1. Generalplan Ost means “masterplan of the east” and was the Nazi plan for the resettlement of Eastern Europe with German citizens after their victory in World War II, which they presumed was imminent in 1941 when they developed the plan.
  2. The territories they were prepared to take over and occupy were Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus and parts of Russia and Ukraine. The Nazis believed people from these territories were racially inferior and required extermination in order to make room for the Aryan Germans.
  3. To exterminate the unwanted people in Eastern Europe, Generalplan Ost called for mass starvation or moving those they wanted to get rid of farther east. Nazi policy in relation to the Generalplan Ost stated: “many tens of millions of people in this territory will become superfluous and will have to die or migrate to Siberia.”
  4. Heinrich Himmler was in charge of coordinating Generalplan Ost, as he had been appointed Reich Commissar for the Strengthening of German Ethnic Stock, which allowed him to decide the fates of people in Eastern Europe. Himmler had Oberfuhrer SS Professor Meyer-Hetling from the Berlin University prepare the plan.
  5. The plan called for the extermination or deportation of 31 million people in Eastern Europe, where about 45 million people were residing at the time. Professor Meyer-Hetling’s plan called for the immediate removal of 80-85 percent of Poland’s population and 50 percent of the Czech Republic’s population, as well as the later deportation of 85 percent of Lithuania’s population, 75 percent of Belarus’ population, 65 percent of western Ukraine’s population and 50 percent of Latvia and Estonia’s populations.
  6. How people were to be “removed” according to Generalplan Ost was based on a racial hierarchy crafted by the Nazis. Those of Slavic origin were “undesirable” and were to be moved into Siberia. The Jews were to be “totally removed,” meaning killed. The rest of the people in Eastern Europe were to be enslaved, “Germanized” or killed.
  7. Special German einzatsgruppen (“task forces”) led operations to kill Eastern Europeans from the end of 1941 to the end of 1942. They killed over 300,000 civilians in Belarus, Ukraine and the Baltic states alone.
  8. Hitler argued that he wanted to acquire Eastern Europe for the resettlement of Germans to the territory in order to give Germans “Lebensraum” (living space). The term was coined by the German geographer Friedrich Ratzel in 1901; he believed a country needed enough resources and territory to be self-sufficient and to protect itself from external enemies.
  9. Hitler was not the first to insinuate racist views towards the Jews, Slavs, and other people of eastern Europe. Multiple early 20th century scholars argued that the resources of the eastern European states were wasted on the “racially inferior” Slavs and Jews.
  10. Part of Hitler’s inspiration for Generalplan Ost and Lebensraum came from the United States’ westward expansion. Hitler believed Germany’s “manifest destiny” lay in the east.

Thankfully, Generalplan Ost never came fully to fruition. It is hard to imagine that there could have been an even greater genocide than what occurred in the Holocaust. Sadly, genocides continue to occur in the world today. Foreign states must act to stop genocides and prevent them from happening, for if foreign states had not intervened in World War II, Generalplan Ost and the Nazi regime could have succeeded.

Mary Kate Luft

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in South Korea
A quick economic recovery after the end of World War II and the signing of the Korean War Armistice in 1953 has mitigated growing rates of poverty and hunger in South Korea. Poverty, however, is a particular threat to the elderly population in South Korea, which has been aptly named the “forgotten” generation.

According to a 2011 report by the government-funded Korea Labor Institute, 48.6 percent of the country’s elderly — individuals aged 65 and over — struggled with relative poverty. Relative poverty, as opposed to absolute poverty, is defined as earning 50 percent or less of the median household income.

More recently, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that approximately half of the country’s elderly were living in poverty in 2015. This poverty rate has been considered the highest among the 34 nations studied by the OECD.

Pastor Choi Seong-Won has been an organizer of a weekly mobile-kitchen for 18 years. He has helped to alleviate the economic hardships of the elderly homeless by providing lunches over the weekends.

Seong-Won told CNN that the reason for this emergence of elderly poverty and hunger in South Korea “is the more than two years of serious economic crisis in Korea, along with the global economic downturn. Wealthy people will be fine no matter the situation, but people going through economic struggles say now is a really difficult time.”

Other local churches in Korea have fed 300 to 500 seniors as they lined up for food. However, charitable meals will not solve the problem of elderly poverty and hunger in South Korea alone.

Bernard Rowan, professor of political science at Chicago State University, also discussed the causes of poverty in the Korea Times. Rowan cites population growth among the elderly in Korea shifts in cultural traditions as causal factors.

Traditionally, Korean culture has placed great emphasis on respecting seniors. The present-day lifestyle, however, has left many parents and grandparents to find work for themselves.

“That may include their emotional lives too,” Rowan explains. “A great many live incredibly alone.”

A Rise in Suicide Rates

Yet, these rates in poverty among the elderly have not only affected hunger in South Korea but have also contributed to higher rates of suicide. According to Statistics Korea, 50.3 out of every 100,000 Seoul citizens 60 years or older took their lives in 2014, the highest rate among all Korean age groups.

Seventy-year-old Seong Young-sook expressed her struggles to a CNN reporter saying, “I feel that my generation is being forgotten.” She continued, “I tried to kill myself next to my husband’s grave. Someone discovered me and I survived.”

Given that elderly poverty and hunger in South Korea are both affecting suicide rates, strategy and swift action are key to alleviating the problem.

Brainstorming and Enacting Solutions

In order to relieve elderly hunger in South Korea, the government recently updated its 1988 national pension system, now offering a “basic pension” retirement program. This expansion targets the poorest seniors and provides them with less than $200 a month.

The government plans to reach 90 percent of the population over the age of 64 by 2060.

Rowan also shared strategies to help reduce poverty among the elderly. The author suggests increasing the number of employment and volunteer opportunities for Korean elders in order to tap their knowledge and experience as well as continue to engage the demographic.

Kim Bok-soon, author of the Korea Labor Institute report, also offered a similar solution that goes beyond the pension program. He believes that the government’s labor market policy should be revised to accommodate elderly workers.

Public officials must continue to take action to alleviate elderly hunger in South Korea as well as high suicide rates.

Priscilla Son

Photo: Flickr

direct_relief_international
Direct Relief International is a nonprofit dedicated to improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty or emergency situations.

The nonprofit, Direct Relief International, works through donations, with volunteers and through the use of advocacy in order to mobilize and provide essential medical care for people in need.

The nonprofit opened its doors in 1948 in order to help people in need confront enormous hardships and recover from natural disasters that have taken away their livelihood.

Direct Relief International was founded by William Zimdin, an Estonian immigrant. He used his good fortune and wealth to send relief packages containing food, clothing and medicine to friends and former employees who were trying to rebuild their lives after World War II.

Zimdin then formed the William Zimdin foundation in California in 1948, which was a precursor to what the nonprofit is today.

When Zimdin died in 1951, just a few years after opening the William Zimdin foundation, his close business associate Dezso Karczag, a Hungarian immigrant, became the foundation’s main manager. Six years later, they changed their name from The William Zimdin Foundation to Direct Relief International.

Direct Relief International provides direct and targeted assistance and does so with respect and involvement with the people it serves.

The nonprofit spends 98.7 percent of all donations and gifts on the programs it runs and manages in needy countries. These programs provide relief packages, vaccinations, vitamin injections, food and assistance to impoverished and displaced peoples.

Much of their relief work, besides providing beneficial relief packages, focuses on the care of pregnant mothers, child health, preventing disease and emergency preparedness programs. This is to ensure that those who live in areas of high disaster risk can be prepared, and major loss of life can be prevented.

Direct Relief International has helped countless people by providing direct medical care and emergency assistance to nations who need it most.

They help provide relief for natural as well as man-made disasters and use contributions from pharmaceutical companies and medical equipment manufacturers to provide health care to those who need it most.

They employ 50 dedicated professional staff members and with the help of 400 volunteers, provide aid to thousands of people each year.

Cara Morgan

Sources: Charity Navigator, Direct Relief International
Photo: SAP News Center